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Ralph Thomas is the Public Safety Commissioner!...

Ralph Thomas is the Public Safety Commissioner!
Protecting Public Safety requires wise decisions and proper funding, not empty promises and misleading campaign signs.  Let's take a look at who actually gets the job done.   On September 21, 2015, Commissioner Thomas voted to change the allocation of the One Cent Sales Tax that increased revenue for Public Safety by $195,475 annually without placing any additional tax burden on Wakulla County Citizen.  This table shows the "before and after" revenue figures. Commissioner Thomas voted for an increase to Public Safety funding.  His opponent voted against it! Prior to 2015, the Public Safety portion of the One Cent Sales tax was only used to purchase ambulances and Sheriff vehicles.  It has never been used to purchase fire trucks.  Wakulla County Firefighters need a dedicated, predictable funding source for their operational expenses and their equipment expenses.  This re-allocation of the One Cent Sales tax provided additional revenue to Public Safety, which made it possible to use the One Cent Sales Tax to purchase fire trucks for the first time in Wakulla County history.  Shifting this expense out of the Fire MSBU fund and into the One Cent Sales Tax fund, freed up significant revenue in the Fire MSBU fund, making it easier to fund firefighter's salaries and operational expenses from the Fire MSBU fund.   Commissioner Thomas voted for this re-allocation.  His opponent voted against it.   The Public Safety re-allocation was recommended by a citizens advisory group who serve on the One Cent Sales Tax Committee, after holding public meetings and considering the needs of Wakulla County. Commissioner Thomas agreed with the citizens and voted for the re-allocation.  His opponent voted against the citizen's recommendations. You can see the proposed agenda item by clicking here. You can see the adopted resolution by clicking here.  The resolution passed with a 4 to 1 vote. Commissioner Thomas' opponent was the lone vote in opposition to increased funding of Public Safety! You can watch the discussion that occured at the Board of County Commissioners meeting here. Commissioner Thomas promised to not raise your taxes.  He promised to make wise decisions to spend your hard earned tax dollars efficiently while working within the budget currently available, just like you do with your personal budget.  Commissioner Thomas kept his promise and has never voted for a tax increase.  Instead, he voted for this re-allocation which provided an additional $195,475...

Ralph Thomas seeks re-election

Ralph Thomas seeks re-election
Commission Chairman wants to continue public service in second term Printed in the Wakulla News, Wednesday, September 28, 2016 at 12:28 pm (Updated: September 28, 12:29 pm) Special to The News Ralph Thomas is a lifelong servant.      As Wakulla County Commission Chairman, the District 1 incumbent is in a position to continue that level of service to the community for another four years.      Thomas served our country in the U.S. Navy. He is proud to be a veteran and is proud to live in a county that honors the service of more than 3,000 veterans who live in Wakulla County. He has worked hard for the past four years serving and representing the citizens of Wakulla County at the local and state level. He continues to advocate for small and efficient government that is a good steward of the people’s money. He recently voted with the board for a 3 percent reduction in property taxes. He voted against the board for a tax increase that occurred in 2015. He is the only candidate for District 1 County Commissioner who has never voted for a tax increase. He is an outspoken advocate for individual freedom and property rights.      “I am not a county commissioner because I know what is best for you,” Thomas said. “I am a county commissioner because I understand that you know what is best for you. I’m here to make sure the government serves you, and not the other way around.”      Thomas formally announces his run for reelection. He qualified for reelection back in June, however, recent changes to the County Charter specify, when only two candidates qualify, both candidates will skip the Primary Election and will appear on the General Election Ballot on Nov. 8. To avoid any confusion, Commissioner Thomas chose to make this announcement after the Primary was complete.      Commissioner Thomas currently represents Wakulla County in District 1. He is being challenged by his fellow Commissioner Howard Kessler, who previously represented District 4 and currently represents District 3 but chose not to run for re-election in his current district, instead would now like to un-seat Thomas and represent District 1.      Thomas was first elected in 2012. His goal was to be actively involved in all aspects of county government to ensure sound decisions...

It is my Honor to Serve You~

It is my Honor to Serve You~
In addition to official Board meetings, Wakulla County Commissioners are required to serve on various Committees.  After being elected in 2012, my first official meeting was on December 3, 2012.  At that meeting, I agreed to serve on 8 additional committees even though I was a brand new Commissioner with a full time time private job.  My opponent, Commissioner Kessler, stated he wanted to serve on zero committees because he has other projects and would not be able to devote the time.  Click the photo below to hear this for yourself.  In spite of my busy schedule, I made the time, because these committees are important to our County.  Over the past 4 years, I have maintained this heavy work load.  Serving you is an honor.  I will continue to devote the time required of me, placing the needs of the county above my own personal needs.  You deserve a full time Commissioner who has the time to serve you!   Advertisement, paid for and approved by Ralph Thomas for Wakulla County...

United Nations and Agenda 21 in Wakulla?

United Nations and Agenda 21 in Wakulla?
Updated on July 22, 2016 Last night, at the candidate forum hosted by the Wakulla VFW, a citizen asked my opponent about his plan to align Wakulla Springs with the United Nations.  Dr. Kessler denied any knowledge of such plan and claimed that it never happened.  After I refreshed his memory, he stated it was not his fault, he was only doing what citizens asked him to do.  He then stated that he would do it again.  WCTV interviewed Dr. Kessler, confirming that his plan did in fact happen.  To see the interview, click here.   The information below was originally posted on October 8, 2013 At the County Commission Meeting tonight, Commissioner Kessler proposed the following: Request Board Approval of a Resolution Supporting the Nomination of Wakulla Springs State Park as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention of Wetlands At first reading, I assumed this would be a non-controversial item, after all, we all love Wakulla Springs and understand its imprtance. As I always do, I started to dig beyond the presented item to make sure that I understood what I would be voting on.  I was not familiar with the Ramsar Convention of Wetlands, so that was the obvious place to start.  I first learned on Wikipedia that it was an international treaty, signed in Iran, in 1971.  That surprised me, but didn't give me any reason for concern.  I then made my way to www.ramsar.org.  I learned they currently have 168 contracting parties, 2,161 sites designated for the List of Wetlands of International Importance, and 205,681,158 hectares of total surface area of designated sites, half a billion acres of land.  At this point, I thought, this might be a good organization for Wakulla Springs to be associated with. As I continued to learn about this organization, I came across this document on the Ramsar website.    Agenda 21 and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands After finding this document, I became very concerned.  Even though I was not familiar with the Ramsar Convention of Wetlands, I am very familiar with Agenda 21.  I knew that it was a United Nations plan to control the development of property across the globe, in the name of sustainable development and environmental preservation.  I knew that its mission seemed noble, but it's agenda was anything but noble.  I knew their...

Buffer Zone or Twilight Zone?

Buffer Zone or Twilight Zone?
For more than a year now, the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance has been trying to convince voters to impose a new layer of government upon themselves. I know, I wouldn't believe it either if I had not seen it unfold myself. They have tried to convince the good people of Wakulla County that we need an ordinance that establishes a 75 foot buffer around wetlands. They have told us this will protect Wakulla Springs. They have told us this will improve our water quality. They have told us this will reduce the nitrogen that goes into the aquifer and makes its way to Wakulla Springs. We all want to protect our water quality. This sounds like a pretty good idea and sounds believable, right? Let's take a closer look. It is now common knowledge that the largest contributor of nitrogen into Wakulla Springs comes from the Tallahassee spray field. It turns out, the spray field is more than 75 feet from Wakulla Springs. It's actually more like 20 miles from Wakulla Springs. We could consider that a 20 mile buffer zone, yet, nitrogen still ends up in Wakulla Springs. If a 20 mile buffer zone fails to protect our water quality, how will the proposed 75 foot buffer make a difference? The truth is, it will not make a difference, especially considering the fact that the proposed ordinance does not regulate the allowable location of septic tanks. If the proposed wetlands ordinance is adopted, you will be able to install a septic tank in the exact same spot as you would with no wetlands ordinance. It's important that we understand, the proposed ordinance has nothing to do with water quality. The proposed ordinance is about control. When you cast your vote, you will make a choice. Who should control your property, you, or a small group who use deception and fear to control growth and eliminate private property rights? It's up to you. Will you vote to protect property rights? Will you encourage your friends and neighbors to show up at the polls to protect property rights? I hope you will and I hope you will vote No on Referendum...

Septic Tanks Wetlands and Wakulla Springs...

Septic Tanks Wetlands and Wakulla Springs
At this point, I'm sure everyone in Wakulla County is aware of the Wetlands discussion that has taken place over the past year.  I'm not aware of any topic that has generated more passion than this one.  We are fortunate to live in one of the most natural and beautiful counties in the entire state.  We all understand the valuable role played by wetlands.  We all want to protect wetlands and preserve our way of life.   Unfortunately, passion for an issue does not always guarantee that the truth will emerge.  Often times, the truth is overlooked or even suppressed when it does not fit neatly within the tactic chosen to achieve the end result.  Here is an example. The Wakulla Wetlands Alliance has spent the past year educating our citizens about the importance of wetlands.  Most of their tactic has been centered on water quality.  Most of their water quality statements have been centered on the quality of water that flows out of Wakulla Springs and ultimately makes its way into our Gulf and estuaries.  To reinforce this point, they cite statistics regarding the nitrogen levels that are detected in Wakulla Springs.  They correctly blame septic tanks as one of the sources of nitrogen that makes its way to our springs.  After setting this stage, it is natural human instinct for all of us to be emotionally connected to this issue.  We all understand the value of clean drinking water.  We can't live without it.  We all understand the recreational and commercial benefit we receive from our lakes, rivers, estuaries and Gulf.  Once we are emotionally connected to this issue, it's natural to wonder or ask, what can we do to help?  After the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance has us emotionally invested, it's easy for them to take advantage of our sincere desire to help.  They tell us to vote yes on Referendum A if we want to protect our water and fisheries.  They tell us to adopt the proposed wetlands ordinance. I must admit, that's a pretty easy sell.  It's not difficult to get good people invested in their sell pitch.  But are they telling us the truth, or are they taking advantage of our emotions and our innate desire to protect our home?  Let's take a closer look. If you are like most people, there is a good...

No Wetlands Lawsuits?

No Wetlands Lawsuits?
You have been told by the Wakulla Wetlands Alliance that we have never been sued because of our prior wetlands ordinance.  Could that be true?  How can two sides disagree on something like that?  Either we have or we have not.  Shouldn't we be able to prove or disprove such a statement?  If it turns out that we have been sued, paid legal fees and paid settlement costs, doesn't it make sense that more suits are possible if voters adopt the proposed wetlands ordinance? Let's take a look and see who is telling the truth.  Decide for yourself! Below, you will find two links for the lawsuit complaint for just one of the suits.  See how many times the word wetlands appears in the suit. https://www.dropbox.com/s/1inq7hipijp911n/Complaint.pdf?dl=0 https://www.dropbox.com/s/1n8k4nzlfmd56f7/Complaint2.pdf?dl=0 The risk of wetlands related lawsuits does not currently exist in Wakulla County.  We eliminated this risk when we repealed the Wakulla Wetlands Ordinance.  A yes vote on Referendum A will return this risk to Wakulla County Tax Payers.  If the proposed ordinance is adopted, it can only be changed by a unanimous vote of all County Commissions, after 2 years, or by another referendum of Wakulla County Voters. A NO vote on Referendum A will eliminate this risk! You now know the truth. Your friends and family deserve to know the truth also. Please share with everyone you know, by Facebook, email, and personal conversations. Also leave a comment below and share your...

Local Control?

Local Control?
      When a private property owner controls his own property, without Government overreach, THAT is the ultimate measure of LOCAL CONTROL! Don't give up control of your property! Don't allow more Government overreach into your life! Keep YOUR Local...

More Freedom

More Freedom
...

Protect Your Rights!

Protect Your Rights!

FL DOT Aquisitions – Genuine Concern or Conspiracy Theory and Political Witch Hunt?...

FL DOT Aquisitions – Genuine Concern or Conspiracy Theory and Political Witch Hunt?
In 2006, the Florida Department of Transportation approved an intersection re-alignment at the intersection at Hwy 98 and 319 near the Wakulla High School.  Recently, there has been a lot of conversation in our county about this intersection.  A Facebook page was setup to label the intersection as "Deadly" and attempted to tie a current County Commissioner to the State's decision to re-align this intersection. See for yourself here.  The Tallahassee Democrat has written articles, about the State's re-alignment plan.  The most recent article describes our home as, "Wakulla County, where political divisions run deep and conspiracy theories abound".  See the article here.  I'm never content with accepting what I read or what I hear, so I decided to do a little homework to help me reach my own conclusion.  Are the folks who are pushing this issue genuinely concerned about the State's acquisition of land around the proposed intersection or are these folks taking advantage of this issue to demonize a current County Commissioner with the hopes of replacing him with a new Commissioner who will do their bidding and help them further their agenda?     When I started my research, I had the following questions: Has the Florida Department of Transportation acquired other parcels of land in Wakulla County? If so, did FL DOT make their decisions independent of input from the Wakulla County Board of County Commissioners and Wakulla County Citizens? If prior purchases occurred, did the folks who are opposed to the High School realignment also oppose other purchases, or is their current opposition politically motivated? After doing my homework, I must admit, I was surprised at the results. I learned that the Florida Department of Transportation has acquired 22 parcels in Wakulla County since 2005.  Their acquisitions have included more than 321 acres.  I also learned that no opposition has been raised for any of these purchases with the exception of the two most recent purchases.  The two most recent purchases, equal 9% of the total purchases made by the State.  In land mass, the two most recent purchases equal 8/10ths of one percent of the land purchases made by the State.  So, less than one percent of the State's acquisitions, has generated 100% of the drama and controversy that we are now hearing.  Is this genuine concern or is this a conspiracy theory and political witch hunt?   Here is a...

The Choice is Clear

The Choice is Clear
    It would not be responsible to protect property rights, while destroying wetlands. It also would not be responsible to protect wetlands, while destroying property rights. A Yes vote on Referendum A will protect wetlands that are already protected by the State while degrading private property rights. A No vote on Referendum A will continue State wetlands protection, while strengthing local private property rights. To protect both wetlands and property rights, the choice is clear. Vote No on Referendum A....

Grandpa, Tell Me About the Good Old Days

Grandpa, Tell Me About the Good Old Days
    Mirriam Webster defines Grandfather Clause as: Take a guess how many times the word Grandfather appears in the proposed Wetlands Ordinance.   Would you believe… 0   That's right!  No Grandfather Clause at all.   In fact, Sec. 32.004. of the proposed ordinance states, "This chapter applies to all development, as defined in this chapter, that may occur within Wakulla County." But, there are some exemptions… Sec. 32.011. – Exemptions. The following activities are exempt from application of this chapter: Development activities conducted in the following, so long as they were not constructed in wetlands or other surface waters and do not intercept an aquifer: artifically constructed waterbodies, including canals, lakes, and ditches that are not hydrologically connected to wetlands or other surface waters or are not a part of a government-approved mitigation plan; swales; stormwater facilities; gravel pits; stone quarries; or wastewater treatment lagoons. (2) Dredging and filling activities conducted within wetlands or other surface waters for which state and/or federal permits were issued for such purposes prior to the effective date of this chapter and which are still valid. (3) Bona fide agricultural uses and silviculture activities, as well as any activity of a bona fide farm operation on land classified as agricultural land pursuant to F.S. § 193.461, if such activity is regulated through implemented best management practices, interim measures, or regulations developed by the department of environmental protection, the department of agriculture and consumer services, or a water management district and adopted under F.S. ch. 120, as part of a statewide or regional program. (4) Vegetation maintenance and tree pruning or trimming of utility easements and rights-of-way by a utility company, so long as such activity conforms to all requirements of law. (5) Development within a wetland or other surface water which is smaller than 500 square feet in size or development within a buffer adjacent to a wetland or other surface water which is smaller than 500 square feet in size, provided the area in which the development will occur is not within the buffer of a wetland or other surface water that is 500 square feet in size or larger. (b) The requirements of this chapter shall not be applicable to development occurring adjacent to springs, karst features, or sinkholes, which shall instead be governed by Policies 13.1 through 13.12 of the...

Wetlands Question and Answer – Can I Rebuild My Home if it gets Destroyed?...

Wetlands Question and Answer – Can I Rebuild My Home if it gets Destroyed?
Question: If you have a home, let's say on the river, and it's destroyed by a hurricane or some other natural occurrence and you have to rebuild, if your home was less than 75 feet from the wetlands, can you rebuild in same place? Answer:  Here is the applicable section from the proposed ordinance.  Sec. 32.007. – Allowable uses. (a) The following uses shall be permitted in wetlands and other surface waters and buffers, provided they do not have an adverse impact on the wetland or other surface water. (1) Construction, repair, replacement or maintenance of docks, piers, boardwalks, observation decks, and other elevated walkways, used for water dependent activities, provided such structure meets the design standards contained in section 32.010 of this chapter, and so long as all applicable state and federal permits have been obtained prior to commencement of such activities. (2) The construction of private seawalls within an artificially created waterbody where such construction adjoins two existing seawalls not more than 150 feet apart. (3) Parks and recreation uses consistent with the purpose and intent of this chapter. (4) Conservation and preservation areas and nature trails. (5) Hunting, trapping, and fishing, environmental education, and scientific research where not otherwise prohibited by law, and consistent with the purpose and intent of this chapter. (6) Installation of boundary fences that do not alter the hydrology of the wetland or other surface water and which meet the design standards contained in section 32.010 of this chapter. (7) Removal of exotic invasive plants in a manner consistent with the design standards set forth in section 32.010 of this chapter. (8) Development activity for which the developer has received a valid development order from Wakulla County prior to the effective date of this chapter, so long as such development order has not expired or been revoked. (9)The renewal, improvement or alteration of 50 percent or less of any structure, so long as such renewal, improvement, or alteration remains within the same footprint as the original structure. (10)The repair or replacement of legally constructed structures damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster or fire, so long as such repair or replacement remains within the same footprint as the original structure. On the surface, it appears that replacement would be allowed in the wetlands or in the buffer zones as long as the...

Wetlands Question and Answer – I Don’t Own Any Wetlands...

Wetlands Question and Answer – I Don’t Own Any Wetlands
I received the following question from a citizen seeking clarification of the proposed Wetlands Ordinance.  I welcome the opportunity to share the truth! Question:  I don’t own any wetlands.  This issue doesn’t affect me personally.  Why should I vote NO? Answer:  This is a question that I hear quite often.  Consider this.  If Referendum A passes every property owner and tax payer in Wakulla County will potentially by affected in at least two ways. 1.  By potential lawsuits.  Wakulla County tax payers have already paid legal fees and settlement costs for law suits related to our first wetlands ordinance.  I covered this in a previous post that you can see by clicking here.    The Bert Harris Act, in Florida Statutes, states, “When a specific action of a governmental entity has inordinately burdened an existing use of real property or a vested right to a specific use of real property, the property owner of that real property is entitled to relief, which may include compensation for the actual loss to the fair market value of the real property caused by the action of government, as provided in this section.”   I covered the Bert Harris Act in detail in a previous post.  You can see it by clicking here.  2.  By  devaluation of land value.  If Referendum A passes, the proposed buffer zones will decrease the buildable area of lots that contain wetlands.  It will also   decrease the buildable area of many lots that do not contain wetlands.  For example, if you have no wetlands on your property but your neighbor has                     wetlands on his property, the 75 feet wetlands buffer may very well extend onto your property making that portion of your property unbuidable.  When we make land unbuildable or unusable, we decrease the market value of that land.  If we decrease the market value, we also decrease the County Taxable Value.  If we decrease the Taxable Value, the County will receive less tax revenue.  If the County receives less tax revenue a decision has to be be made to cut government services or increase taxes to maintain the current government services.  Both of these options will affect all Wakulla County Citizens. The risk I have described above does not currently exist in Wakulla County.  We eliminated this...

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